Poverty Measurement: Regional, State, and Local Initiatives

Federal Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) | Regional, State, and Local Initiatives | History

Researchers, policymakers, and advocates have critiqued the official federal poverty measure for many years. In response, governmental and academic researchers have worked to develop more complete methods of poverty measurement and to generate alternative estimates of poverty rates.

A number of states and localities have published reports and begun initiatives to evaluate the effectiveness of programs for the poor and low-income persons, by using alternative measures of poverty based on regional characteristics and recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel, as well as research from the U.S. Census Bureau. The states and cities listed below have conducted their own research and published resources to highlight their efforts in developing NAS-type measures.

Wisconsin

IRP researchers have been involved with national initiatives to develop and refine alternative poverty measures for many years, so work on a Wisconsin-specific poverty measure was a natural extension of these efforts and an example of the Wisconsin Idea in action. In 2009, Governor Doyle, Secretary Bicha, and the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families launched a statewide antipoverty initiative in partnership with IRP and numerous public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other community groups. To date, the project has included working groups; a summit in May 2009, "Building Bridges to Family Economic Success"; and the release of IRP's first Wisconsin Poverty Report. The report described the nature and depth of poverty in Wisconsin and outlined components of a proposed alternative poverty measure for the state.

IRP Director Timothy Smeeding, Brookings Fellow Julia Isaacs, and a team of IRP staff have worked to further develop the alternative measure and they have released a series of reports on methods and results under the Wisconsin Poverty Measure in September 2010. Details of this research and copies of the annual Wisconsin Poverty Report are available on the Wisconsin Poverty research page on IRP's Web site.

California

New York City

In 2008, New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) introduced a new method for measuring poverty in the city, based on the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). CEO's latest working paper, "Policy Affects Poverty: The CEO Poverty Measure, 2005-2009" was released in March 2011. For copies of the CEO Poverty Measure reports, visit the Poverty Measurement page on the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity Web site.

New York state

Researchers from the New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance have applied the Center for Economic Opportunity's methods to measure poverty across and within the state of New York. Publications on state poverty in New York will be posted here when available.

Connecticut

The state of Connecticut, as part of its ten-year plan to reduce state child poverty by half, created a Child Poverty and Prevention Council, and published a number of reports based on the NAS recommendations for measuring poverty. Find the following report -- Economic Modeling of Child Poverty and Prevention Council Initiatives, by Linda Giannarelli and Sheila Zedlewski (Urban Institute), August 6, 2009 -- and others, on the Child Poverty and Prevention Council Web site. Urban Institute researchers also published an article in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management in 2010, "Estimating the Potential Effects of Poverty Reduction Policies".

Minnesota

In 2006, Minnesota established a Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020 (LCEP). Like Connecticut, Minnesota consulted the Urban Institute in the use of the NAS recommendations to measure poverty in Minnesota. The LCEP Final Report (January 2009) and other materials are available on the LCEP Web site. The Urban Institute released a subsequent report, Measuring Poverty at the State Level, in 2010, describing the methods used in the NAS-type measure for Minnesota.

Georgia

The Urban Institute is conducting work on safety net programs in Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts under NAS-type poverty measures. Like Connecticut and Minnesota, the alternative poverty measure for Georgia uses the Urban Institute's the Transfer Income Model, version 3 (TRIM3) to simulate poverty. In July of 2011, the Urban Institute published The Effects of the Safety Net on Child Poverty in Three States, which is available on the Urban Institute Web site.

Illinois

The Urban Institute is conducting work on safety net programs in Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts under NAS-type poverty measures. Like Connecticut and Minnesota, the alternative poverty measure for Illinois uses the Urban Institute's the Transfer Income Model, version 3 (TRIM3) to simulate poverty. In July of 2011, the Urban Institute published The Effects of the Safety Net on Child Poverty in Three States, which is available on the Urban Institute Web site.

Massachusetts

The Urban Institute is conducting work on safety net programs in Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts under NAS-type poverty measures. Like Connecticut and Minnesota, the alternative poverty measure for Massachusetts uses the Urban Institute's the Transfer Income Model, version 3 (TRIM3) to simulate poverty. In July of 2011, the Urban Institute published The Effects of the Safety Net on Child Poverty in Three States, which is available on the Urban Institute Web site.

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